Wow! 2019 is over already?!? What a year it has been in terms of quality music releases and for Jano Lapin as well. 2020 looks even brighter with the return of Art Impact for a second season on MAtv hosted by our very own Anne Jano. For now though, let’s focus on the 5 albums released in November that we fell in love with and that, of course, You Must Listen to!
Mamselle Ruiz | Soleil de Lune – Entre mer et feu (World | Mexican)
It’s already been a decade since Mamselle Ruiz moved from her native Mexico to Quebec. 3 records (2 solos and one collaborative effort with Bïa) and several projects with the Cirque du Soleil later, Mamselle releases her fourth record Soleil de Lune – Entre mer et feu. As hinted by its double reference in the album title, duality is a recurring there throughout the album. The obvious warmth of her native Mexico opposed to the colder Quebec but also the bright and dark sides inside each individual all inspired Mamselle this time around.
If you followed the career of the singer-songwriter, you already know that she blends a little of the local culture/language in her music on each record. For this new album, she pulls and blends the two cultures together more than ever. She starts with a French adaptation of Álvaro Carrillo’s classic Luz de Luna while also injecting some adrenaline in the song making it real modern sounding. Later she also Mexicanizes Charles Aznavour’s La Bohème and Félix Leclerc’s Le p’tit bonheur. While both work very well in their crossbred versions, the upbeat La Bohème is a real home run. Despite having heard the original countless times, it almost feels like the song was always meant to be played this way, which is no small feat.
Mamselle Ruiz doesn’t only cover classics, she is also an accomplished songwriter in her own right and she proves it again on this album. Montréal Kaléidoscope is a catchy love letter to her adoptive city and the multiple cultures living within (see the video made for the song below). Luna de Runa is another light and bright offering which is sure to have you dance around the house searching for that travel suitcase to go down south.
Soleil de Lune is definitely Mamselle Ruiz’s best record to date. Make sure you give a listen… it will no doubt leave you with a smile as large as hers!
Available on all streaming platforms!
Must. Listen. To.: Luna de Runa, La Bohème, Lumière de Lune, Montréal Kaléidoscope, Lagrimas Negras.
Louis-Philippe Gingras | Tropicale Apocalypse (Apocalyptic Trop Rock)
Oh god! It’s going to be hard doing justice to this one just writing about it. Louis-Philippe Gingras is back with Tropicale Apocalypse, a record as out of left field as its artwork. You can find almost everything on this album: poems narrated by actor Pierre Lebeau, Trop Rock and jazz-influenced melodies, witty apocalyptic lyrics, etc. Probably the finest example is Apocalypso, where Gingras uses island rhythms combined with humorous end of the world lyrics where it’s raining both pineapples and children for one addictive single (see video below).
It’s on those upbeat tracks that Gingras is at his best, Tape Électrique being another prime example. On this one, the heaviest of the album, the songwriter depicts a strange day at the plant where all coworkers are transformed into zombies! What can one guy do when all he has handy to defend himself is electrical tape??? Other standouts from the record include Barrés d’Toronto, a straightforward pop-rock song ending with a child choir and Deux Pouces, another trop-rock funny track.
With Tropical Apocalypse, Gingras is definitely unique on the local scene. You won’t hear anything else that come close to this experience!
Available on streaming platforms and CD/Vinyl here!
Must. Listen.To.: Tape Électrique, Apocalypso, Deux Pouces, Barrés d’Toronto, Gwendolina.
Angel Forrest | Hell Bent with Grace (Blues|Rock)
For those who are maybe unfamiliar with her work, Angel Forrest is arguably Canada’s best blues singer. As a matter of fact, she’s won for six years straight the Female Vocalist of the year Maple Blues Award.
She’s now back with her new record, Hell Bent with Grace, more on the rock side of her Blues-Rock-Country musical spectrum. Teaming with Denis Coulombe and Richard Paquette, the songwriters delivered one kick-ass record! Everyone is at the top of their game and Forrest’s vocals are again shining through with just enough rawness. Reflecting on the various changes in her life, the song Bea is a definite highlight of the record and reminiscent of some of Melissa Etheridge’s finest moments. The Blame Game has been written in memory of her late cousin Billy Ford, who committed suicide in 2018. Despite its heavy topic, it’s the catchiest song on the record. The official video for the song can be seen below.
Whether it’s the addictive guitar riff of Looking Glass or the melancholy of Marigold, there’s no dull moment on Hell Bent with Grace. Forest and Coulombe recently sold their property and most their belongings, bought a RV and left for Music City to push this record and live the dream. The real question being: is Nashville ready for this much talent?
Hell Bent for Grace is available on streaming platforms and vinyl here!
Must. Listen. To.: Bea, The Blaming Game, Marigold, Menie the Monster, Looking Glass.
Koko et ses Machines | Albert s’est envolé, mais il ne reviendra pas (Electro)
Similar to Leeman (included in October’s 5 albums You Must Listen to!), Koko et ses Machines is another one of those obscure artists signed to Hopeful Tragedy Records where the artist behind the music remains anonymous and has no social media presence. Emerging artist who wants to remain anonymous or side project from a well known artist, whatever it is, it’s good music!
What Koko proposes here is an electro-atmospheric concept album inspired by Space monkey Albert as well as other animals that were sent into space. As the album is mostly instrumental, this is evidenced by the album song titles, album artwork and few lyrics here and there. Some songs also feature some scientists discussions over the electronic beats which brought back memories of Michel Lemieux‘ Anima soundtrack and other similar downtempo acts.
The album’s shining moments come from Laïka (which was the name of the dog sent into space by the Soviets) and its emotional spoken chorus with airy female back vocals and also the groovy Feu! with its rocket firing sounds, vocal samples and catchy synth melody lines. The rest of the album is also consistently good and a perfect soundtrack to listen to at work or for your impromptu 5@7!
Clocking in at just over 34 minutes, this one goes by almost too fast and will leave you asking for more! Let’s cross our fingers hoping this is not a one-off project.
Albert s’est envolé, mais il ne reviendra pas is available on all streaming platforms and handmade vinyl through HTR records here!
Must. Listen. To.: Laïka, Feu!, Entre l’air et l’espace, V-2, Apesanteur.
Gregory Charles | LEN (Neo-Classical)
Listening to this record cold, without context, you’re quickly taken aback by the emotional power of album opener Larmes du Printemps. That song is so beautiful. It’s like watching a sunset so stunning that you’ll shed a tear. Charles’ piano combined with strings uplifting the melody, hint that the song originated from something intense. And this emotional charge carries through the rest of the record.
So, when you learn that the genesis of this record is Charles’ father tragic death, it all makes perfect sense. His name was Lennox, hence the album title LEN. Charles wrote the record with the memory of his father watching him in studio when he was playing and composing on the piano. The melodies on this instrumental album are as such rooted in peaceful moments rather than pain or suffering. Fitting for a tribute to a man which Charles describes as good and without any malice.
This collection of songs should please those who fell in love with Andréa Stréliski’s Inscape. Similarly, you’ll be softly carried in the middle of a movie soundtrack that, even if inexistant, you feel you already experienced. A true gem!
Get immersed in LEN, available on streaming platforms or on CDs here!
Must. Listen. To.: Larmes du Printemps, Vocaliszt, Valse des citrouilles, Oscar, Hier.
Francophone and Francophile, trying to bring Québec’s two solitudes together through cultural exchanges. Improv Actor for 15 years. Music lover, from New Age to Death Metal and everything in between.